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PM slams BJP,says won’t sweep CAG coal report under carpet

Session: BJP says obstructed Parliament to shake conscience of voters

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: September 8, 2012 2:58:21 am

Strongly attacking what he called the BJP’s politics of disruption,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said the Opposition’s strategy to obstruct risked distracting the government from focusing on the country’s problems including the economic slowdown.

Singh invoked the fundamentals of parliamentary democracy —debate and discussion — as he castigated the main opposition party for wasting an entire session of Parliament over the CAG report on coal block allocations. He said the government had been ready to discuss the issue in the Public Accounts Committee as well as in both Houses of Parliament.

He also asserted that the government had no intention of sweeping under the carpet issues raised in the CAG report and said they would not only be discussed in Parliament but “corrective action” would be taken if required.

But the BJP stuck to its guns and justified its obstructionist tactics as an “attempt to shake the conscience” of the electorate against a “regime committed to kleptocracy”. The party also faulted the Congress for missing the opportunity to break the impasse by not accepting its two “pre-conditions” for holding a discussion in Parliament.

“We do incalculable damage to the reputation of India’s Parliament if we resort to disruption of Parliament to make a political point,” Singh said in a statement,entitled ‘Message to the Nation’,released after the monsoon session of Parliament ended Friday.

The prime minister said the country is passing through an “exceptionally difficult phase” with many internal and external problems and challenges. “There are problems of communal tension,ethnic violence and the ever present threat of Naxalism. Terrorism remains a serious threat…these are some of the issues that should have been discussed in Parliament so that our countrymen could have been better informed of these problems and ways of addressing them,” he said.

Singh said there were major economic challenges too. “We must work hard to ensure that the Indian economy returns to high growth. I have no doubt we can do it,” he said. “We cannot do this if the government is constantly distracted by the actions of those who prefer obstruction over discussion.”

Singh also said that the he and his government had great respect for the CAG but the institution would be strengthened only if its reports were taken seriously enough to discuss them in the PAC as well as on the floor of Parliament. “PAC reports deal with complex issues on which there can be different points of view and all these must be heard fully before rushing to judgment. We do not strengthen the CAG as an institution by using its reports to prevent discussion and cause disruption,” Singh said.

However,Arun Jaitley,the BJP’s Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha,remained unsparing.

“This is a textbook case of crony capitalism. A large number of allotments were made to business persons or politicians connected with the UPA,” he told a press conference,referring to the coal block allotments. “Some continued to hold the allotments while some exited after a windfall gain. They were mainly name-lenders and renters. This is why we have attempted to shake up the conscience of this country. UPA is a regime committed to kleptocracy.”

Jaitley said that the prime minister and the PMO were guiding the process of allotments and reiterated the party’s demand that Singh quit and the 142 allotments BE cancelled.

Sushma Swaraj,Jaitley’s counterpart in the Lok Sabha,said the party would now hit the streets and take the campaign to cities and towns across the country. “Names of two Congress MPs,one of the DMK and one from the RJD,have surfaced in these allotments so far. Going by the names that are appearing ,the heat will reach the doorstep of the prime minister,” Swaraj said.

The BJP also sought to defend its Rajya Sabha MP Ajay Sancheti,who is considered close to party president Nitin Gadkari and is alleged to have got coal block mining rights. Jaitley said Sancheti was only a minority shareholder in a company that had acquired a coal block through competitive bidding. “If somebody feels these are irregular,let it be inquired into,” Jaitley said.

He also faulted industry bodies CII and Assocham for supporting the government stand on the coal block allotments,saying they had failed to rise to the occasion.

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